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Marquette University
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Holthusen Hall, First Floor
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P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
Phone: (414) 288-7423
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Building your career wardrobe

So you are starting out in the “real world.”  You’ve got your own place and the countdown to your first day has begun. 

There are a lot of things to think about when making the transition from college grad to career professional.  Though you may have considered what to wear on your first day, you may not have thought about all that goes into building a career wardrobe.  Before spending your entire first paycheck on trendy clothes that will only last you a season or two, take time to build a wardrobe that lasts.   

There are a lot of resources to help you determine your style, your colors, your “look.”  Use those resources (some listed below) to compliment the following wardrobe basics.  Also, I am providing information for both genders; separating men and women only for simplicity’s sake.

Shopping tips:
  1. Only buy items that can be worn in at least three combinations (example: top with three different bottoms)
  2. Try to avoid “outfits” that only allow you to wear each piece with the other pieces purchased together
  3. Don’t forget appropriate undergarments
  4. Steer clear of fashion trends that only last one or two seasons

BASIC CAREER WARDROBE LEVEL ONE WOMEN

  1. Skirts: 2 all season
  2. T-shirts: 1 white | 1 black
  3. Tops: 6 work appropriate (blouse, button up, shell)
  4. Dresses: 2 all season
  5. Sweaters: 1 fitted pullover | 1 cardigans
  6. Jeans: 1 work appropriate
  7. Pants: 3 pairs all season
  8. Suits: 1 classic suit
  9. Jackets: 2 all season
  10. Outerwear: 1 classic trench
  11. Bag: 1 leather shoulder | 1 tote
  12. Shoes: 1 pair dark heels | 1 pair dark flats | 1 pair sling backs | 1 pair neutral pumps

BASIC CAREER WARDROBE LEVEL ONE MEN

  1. Shirts: 6 work appropriate
  2. Sweaters: 2 pullovers
  3. Jeans: 1 work appropriate
  4. Pants: 5 pairs all season
  5. Suits: 1 classic suit
  6. Jackets: 2 all season
  7. Outerwear: 1 classic trench
  8. Shoes: 1 pair dark | 1 pair neutral

BASIC CAREER WARDROBE LEVEL TWO WOMEN
In addition to the items listed in LEVEL ONE, gradually add the following:

  1. Skirts: 2 summer
  2. T-shirts: 1 striped
  3. Dresses: 2 summer
  4. Pants: 3 pairs winter | 3 pairs summer
  5. Suits: 2 classic suits
  6. Jackets: 1 wool blazer | 1 winter jacket | 2 summer
  7. Outerwear: 1 hip-length | 1 lightweight spring

BASIC CAREER WARDROBE LEVEL TWO MEN
In addition to the items listed in LEVEL ONE, gradually add the following:

  1. Sweaters: 1 fitted pullovers | 1 cardigans | 1 dark turtleneck
  2. Pants: 3 pairs winter | 3 pairs summer
  3. Suits: 2 classic suits
  4. Jackets: 1 wool blazer | 1 winter jacket | 2 summer
  5. Outerwear: 1 hip-length | 1 lightweight spring
As you start your professional life, you may also need to (re)create your casual and social wardrobes.  Here are some guidelines for building both casual and social wardrobes; for grown ups.

BASIC CASUAL WARDROBE: WOMEN

  1. Skirts: 2 all season
  2. T-shirts: 1 white | 1 black
  3. Tops: 4 weekend
  4. Dresses: 2 all season
  5. Sweaters: 2 weekend
  6. Jeans: 1 weekend
  7. Pants: 2 all season
  8. Jackets: 1 all weather
  9. Outerwear: 1 parka | 1 lightweight spring | 1 windbreaker
  10. Bag: 1 winter | 1 summer | 1 summer tote
  11. Shoes:  1pair boots | 1 pair closed toe shoes | 1 pair summer sandals

BASIC CASUAL WARDROBE: MEN

  1. T-shirts: 1 white | 1 black
  2. Shirts: 4 weekend
  3. Sweaters: 2 weekend
  4. Jeans: 2 weekend
  5. Pants: 4 all season
  6. Jackets: 1 all weather
  7. Outerwear: 1 parka | 1 lightweight spring | 1 windbreaker
  8. Shoes:  1 pair boots | 1 pair casual shoes

BASIC SOCIAL WARDROBE: WOMEN

  1. Skirts: 1 all season day | 1 all season evening
  2. Tops: 1 fun day | 1 dressy night
  3. Dresses: 1 all season day
  4. Pants: 1 evening
  5. Outerwear: 1 light wrap
  6. Bag: 1 evening clutch
  7. Shoes:  1 pair sandals

BASIC SOCIAL WARDROBE: MEN

  1. Shirts: 1 light dressy for day | 1 dark dressy for night
  2. Pants: 2 pairs casual pants| 2 pairs dress pants
  3. Shoes:  1 pair dress shoes
This post is my take on a very helpful e-book called Wardrobe Magic by Diana Pemberton-Sikes available for $24.00 at http://www.wardrobemagic.com/